In previous posts, I've talked about my gradual change to atheism. The change didn't happen in a rush of realization like the loss of my testimony did. But if I had to identify a point in time when I realized that I was a complete atheist, it would be one night during the summer of 2010. That night was like many nights in that I was feeling very lonely and I had no idea what to do with myself. I went to the temple and sat on the grounds as the sun set and just thought. I thought about how much had changed since the last time I'd been inside a temple--it had been over a year. I looked up at the stars and wondered if there was anyone up there who cared about me at all. I had stopped praying a few months previously, because my desperate prayers just weren't being answered. But I decided to give it one last shot. If I was ever going to regain a belief in God, this was his chance.
I said everything that I had to say to God. I told him about how frustrated and lonely and confused I was. I told him how much I wanted to believe that he was real, but that I really didn't think it was fair of him to expect me to believe in him when all appearances indicated that he didn't exist. I asked him to help me know if he was real. I don't know what I expected. I didn't expect any kind of miraculous vision. I didn't expect a warm fuzzy feeling like the one I had been told to expect when reading the Book of Mormon. Even if I had felt something like that, I wouldn't have trusted it. I think that I was really expecting everything to suddenly make sense, that all my doubts and the apparent problems with a belief in God would vanish in a brilliant flash of logic. Whatever I was expecting, nothing happened. Nothing. In a way I wasn't really surprised by the nothingness, because that was all I had been getting for months, even before I lost my testimony of Mormonism. But this time was different, because I accepted it. No divine answer was forthcoming. I had done my level best to believe in God, and God had failed the test.
As I walked back from the temple to my apartment, I didn't really think much about what had happened. It was almost as if nothing had happened, because nothing had really changed. But I was finally at peace with God--that is, with his lack of existence. Since losing my testimony I had always wondered in the back of my mind if there really was a God, and if he really cared. I had now accepted that I was on my own and that there wasn't any supernatural force to guide me or comfort me, or even to lend me a listening ear. I had talked to God, and no one had heard me. I wouldn't even realize the significance of that night until later. Even though the experience itself was emotionally difficult, my reaction immediately afterwards was really just a shrug of my shoulders. So there was probably no God. That came as anything but a surprise. That night I let go of my angst over the God issue and got on with my life. I haven't worried since.